Davezac pleads not guilty

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 13, 2010



NEW ORLEANS – A Destrehan engineer involved in a bribery scheme with former St. John Parish President Bill Hubbard pleaded innocent in federal court to charges that he paid a $5,000 bribe to the former parish leader.

Ray A. Davezac, 55, entered his plea before U.S. Magistrate Alma Chasez. Chasez immediately set an unsecured bond of $100,000 and scheduled a trial date of April 12, before U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier.

If convicted, Davezac faces a maximum of five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000.

According to court documents, Hubbard pleaded guilty on Sept. 25 to taking $20,000 in bribes from three St. John Parish contractors in exchange for contracts. Hubbard then used the money to purchase a Toyota Camry for a woman who, according to the documents, had been involved in a romantic relationship with Hubbard. Hubbard resigned as parish president Sept. 24 and is now awaiting sentencing, which is scheduled for April.

Davezac’s firm was awarded contracts to manage St. John Parish’s $29.5 million bond issue and oversee the use of funds from the parish’s Coastal Impact Assistance Program grant. Both contracts, which were awarded by the parish council at Hubbard’s request, were terminated in October following Hubbard’s guilty plea.

According to a bill of information in the case against Davezac, filed on Jan. 29 by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Hubbard solicited a check from Davezac payable to a New Orleans Toyota dealership on or around May 5. The document shows that Davezac received the contract at a date after the bribe was solicited and paid.

In addition to Davezac’s firm, Davezac Consulting Engineers, the indictment against Hubbard also implicates Pipeworks Plumbing & Demolition of River Ridge and Parson & Sanderson of Elmwood as having paid bribes to Hubbard in exchange for contracts.

St. John Parish documents show that the parish had paid more than $1.2 million to the three companies for work done in 2008 and 2009. The parish council has since canceled those contracts.

Davezac’s attorney, Ralph Capitelli, could not be reached for comment following the arraignment. Hubbard’s attorney, Donald “Chick” Foret, has said his client is cooperating with investigators, but he would not elaborate.